HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Isabelle
Non-Stop New York
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood
Oblomov
Alita: Battle Angel
We the Animals
Ibiza Undead
Wings of Eagles, The
Beats
Body Parts
Shock of the Future, The
Friday
High Life
High Noon
Comes a Horseman
Scandal in Paris, A
Greta
Fight, The
Pink Jungle, The
Skiptrace
Double Date
Mind of Mr. Soames, The
Long Shot
Sherlock Holmes
Amazing Grace
Monitors, The
Memory: The Origins of Alien
Mesa of Lost Women
Banana Splits Movie, The
In Fabric
Sisters Brothers, The
Aniara
Flamingo Kid, The
Queen, The
Avengers: Endgame
Vanishing Act
Critters Attack!
Prison on Fire
Dragged Across Concrete
Do the Right Thing
   
 
Newest Articles
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
   
 
  Murder By Death Watching The DetectivesBuy this film here.
Year: 1976
Director: Robert Moore
Stars: David Niven, Peter Sellers, Peter Falk, Maggie Smith, Eileen Brennan, Alec Guinness, James Coco, Elsa Lanchester, Truman Capote, Estelle Winwood, James Cromwell, Nancy Walker, Richard Narita
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: The mysterious Lionel Twain (Truman Capote) sends out invitations to five famous sleuths to meet with him at his isolated mansion in the country. It is a foggy night, and the guests are slow to arrive, among them being Dick and Dora Charleston (David Niven and Maggie Smith) who have to stop their car when they become lost. Fortunately Dick finds a telephone, but when he calls the mansion, the line is suddenly cut as if the wires had been snipped; to top it all, the Charlestons' terrier then goes missing. Meanwhile, detective Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) is being driven to the house by his Number Three Son Willie (Richard Narita), and who should they encounter when they stop to get their bearings but Dick?

The genre of the detective who arrives at the scene of the crime and makes swift work of uncovering the culprit, the motive and the method, and then goes on to apprehend the villain with a flourish, is just begging to be sent up, and that was the idea behind Murder By Death. But that idea is all it has in its favour, because once the crimefighters are assembled, which takes a whole half hour of screen time, it's clear that the once in a lifetime cast don't have many opportunites thanks to Neil Simon's only fitfully amusing script. The cast is the film's strongest feature, and assist tremendously in not making the enterprise a waste of time.

It's not only Nick and Nora Charles and Charlie Chan (naturally played by an Occidental actor in makeup) who get the spoof treatment. Soon we see Sam Diamond (Peter Falk) and his secretary (Eileen Brennan) driving up, a parody of Sam Spade - but not a parody of Columbo as you might be expecting from Falk, the only actor who plays a master detective regularly elsewhere. They are joined by a Poirot takeoff, Belgian Milo Perrier (James Coco) and his assistant/driver (James Cromwell), and a pseudo-Miss Marple, Miss Marbles (Elsa Lanchester) arriving with her nurse (Estelle Winwood) who is older and more infirm than she is.

The stars don't stop there, as Alec Guinness is in the role of the butler, Bensonmum, here a blind man leading to an abundance of jokes centering around the fact that he can't see. Then the maid (Nancy Walker) shows up to cook dinner, who has the not-particularly-hilarious-either disability of deafness, just to make thing even more difficult. The level of wit depends on wordplay - "Have you seen a little white - Wang!" "A white wang?!" - which isn't too bad, but not along the generally more sophisticated lines of what it's spoofing. And the plot doesn't hold up to much criticism as it's obviously a way of getting from one joke to another.

Eventually everyone has arrived and are seated around the dining table, and cunningly noticing that someone has been laying deadly traps for each one of them. Then Twain makes his entrance, and Capote is the only actor who seems miscast, probably due to him not really being an actor, looking as if he has trouble reaching the end of each of his lines. He's not in the film enough to harm it, however, and he does relate the important information that an unlucky person in the house will be killed at the stroke of midnight. What saves Murder By Death are the talented players, managing to wring the humour out of the most groaning lines, and as such make the film worth seeing. But you get a feeling of frustration on the part of Simon with the writers of the material he lampoons, as if he couldn't think up a plot worthy of his characters - it just doesn't make any sense. Tex Avery did it better in five minutes. Music by Dave Grusin.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 8753 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
  Derrick Smith
   

 

Last Updated: